Perhaps best known for his role as the skirt-chasing lawyer on “L.A. Law”, Corbin Bernsen recently wrote and directed a straight-to-DVD release of the faith-based film Rust. It tells the story of a pastor who has lost his faith but rediscovers it while trying to defend a friend who has been accused of a crime. Bernsen spoke to me last week about the film and about his own rediscovery of faith. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
What faith expression did you grow up with?
We were Christian Scientists. That was my Sunday school and the church we went to. Christ has been there, as far back as I remember.
What led you to write the faith-based film Rust?
The journey to God is constant. I don’t know if we can ever get close enough. I haven’t always flexed that muscle.
After my father’s passing two and a half years ago, I was sitting with his bag of ashes and realized I didn’t understand where he might be. That led to bigger religious questions: Is there heaven, hell, God, evil? It opened me up to an incredible philosophical discussion. I feel that part of God’s journey for me is to bring back people who want to explore that.
Faith helps to make sense of the world and helps to understand pain and the agony of suffering.
Has making the film affected your own practice of faith?
It brought me back. I’m deeply interested and exploring, and it’s coming out in practice. I’ve been married for 22 years and have four children. The last couple of years, I’ve felt closer to my wife.
Is it difficult to be a person of faith in Hollywood?
I don’t know that it is. If you’re walking around talking about it all day, and constantly preaching, it might be. People don’t want to hear that, no matter what message you’re selling. They’re like “I don’t want soap, and I don’t want Christ. Don’t sell me anything.”
Yet, if you listen to great athletes, musicians or actors, so many of them give thanks to God first. They know that that piece of magic — the gift they’ve been given — is divine.
Do you think there’s an audience for faith-based films?
I think there is. There’s also an audience just outside the circle. The movie The Blind Side indicated to me that there are people out there.